I have a confession to make: this is not my first blog. Back in the days when MySpace wasn’t just the punchline to jokes about irrelevance (Irony!), I blogged fairly regularly on faith in the MySpace blog forum. It was a formative experience for me. I was just a 19-year old who knew next to nothing, but for some reason I was getting read. I met a lot of great people and great writers through that blog, some of whom I still keep in touch with. I learned a lot about respectful dialogue with people from various worldviews as well as differing tribes within Christianity. It was a great part of my spiritual and theological development in college that I look back on with much fondness.
At the same time, I’m glad it died.
the rise and fall of my blog
For a while was going well; I was posting on a regular basis, once or twice a week as my school schedule allowed. My blogs were being read and regularly ranked in the top 10 of the Religion and Spirituality section on MySpace in terms of views and comments. (I know that’s not much, but it was pretty good for a 19-year-old with a brain full of mush.) At a certain point though, I began to notice that the posts were slowing down until I eventually found myself unable to write anymore. I mean, I could write, but I couldn’t find the will to write. When I stepped back to think about my writer’s block, I realized that it set in about the time that I started to do serious theological reading. While I have always been a reader, I had not starting reading books relating to Christian theology until my college years, and even then I didn’t start reading what I would call “serious” theology until my last year.
In looking back on the experience, I’ve realized that one thing that came with reading, growing, and learning is that I began to learn how much I had left to read, grow, and learn. I knew next to nothing. I wasn’t even aware of how much I didn’t know. I dare say I’m still just scratching the surface of my ignorance. At the time I came to realize that most of what I could say or write had been said and written long before I started typing by men and women with greater depth, insight, and skill than myself. It was a humbling experience.
In realizing this, I also recognized one my main motivations for blogging: I had been captivated by the feeling of saying something novel and being applauded for it. I loved the feeling of writing something and getting “likes”, seeing comments engaging my thoughts as if they were important insights, and getting acclaim for it. Of course this wasn’t my only motive. I am a natural teacher. I like sharing thoughts. At that point though, the love of being heard was novel and captivating. I don’t say that this is not a temptation even now–it is. At the time it was easy for it to become consuming. When I realized that I wasn’t actually saying anything new, or that people ought to be reading others instead myself, a large portion of my motivation died.
Again, I take this, in many ways, to be a good development. Writing for applause doesn’t do good things for your soul. At the same time, the death of my blog was not an unambiguously positive event. In being humbled, in coming to realize my smallness, relative ignorance and foolishness, I also was struck with a peculiar voicelessness. In coming to know that I knew very little, I fell into a certain of paralysis that robbed me of the ability to try to write about the things that I did know. I just didn’t see the point, or even feel competent to.
the birth pangs
Since that time I have gone to grad school, written a few papers, read a great many books, preached regularly for a couple of years, spent far too much time pontificating in Facebook conversations, and been humbled time and again in various contexts (as I’m sure I’ll continue to be.) In other words, God’s been working on my heart for, knowledge of, and ability to communicate the truth of the Gospel. I’m in a better spot in that respect than I was a few years ago. After prayer, deliberation, and counsel, I came to the decision to start blogging again.
Surprisingly, this has not been an easy one. For the amount of time that I’ve spent in online forums expressing myself, discussing, debating, as well as preaching on a regular basis, coming to the point of committing my thoughts to print in an intentional and sustained fashion has felt daunting. Temporary disengagement from an activity can become habit that leads to the eventual atrophy of the talents or will required to participate in it. This is true, I am finding, in nearly all areas of life. There’s a part of me that still asks much as I did a few years ago, “Why write? There are much smarter and more valuable things that have already said by more capable writers than myself?”
I’ve been asking myself this question for a bit and, for the most part, I have not really had any good reasons other than a basic sense that I ought to be writing. It was only until a friend of mine gave me some good advice in personal correspondence that I have been able arrive at any sort of conclusion. In discussing the issue, my friend wrote, “I would say that you should write as a discipline for yourself. If others want to participate in that, awesome, but the goal should be developing to skill of creatively communicating what truths the Lord has revealed. That is, as you know, the task of a theologian.”
This is what I want to be the heart behind my writing. I want it to be an act of discipleship and obedience to my covenant Lord; another area in which to grow in humility and grace; a means by which I can continue to grow in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share it with others according to the gifts and abilities God has given me; another area of my life in which I can strive to glorify God and enjoy him even now in this life.
This is my hope and my prayer.